Our Cross-Strait Path will Determine Our Destiny
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 26, 2013
Summary: Yesterday morning Ang Lee won the Academy Award. Yesterday afternoon, the Ma administration announced that the Number Four Nuclear Power Plant would be submitted to a popular referendum. These events nearly eclipsed the Lien-Xi Summit in Beijing, but they did not diminish its significance.
Full Text below:
Yesterday morning Ang Lee won the Academy Award. Yesterday afternoon, the Ma administration announced that the Number Four Nuclear Power Plant would be submitted to a popular referendum. These events nearly eclipsed the Lien-Xi Summit in Beijing, but they did not diminish its significance.
Lien Chan has repeatedly stressed that his current visit is merely "revisiting old times." He has said that he is "not representing any political party or organization." The Presidential Office said President Ma did not entrust Lien Chan with any specific tasks, but that he was happy to see Lien Chan visit the Mainland as a private citizen. This is usually the blessing that an outsider gives an insider.
The tone which Ma and Lien set for the Lien-Xi Summit is certainly unusual. Viewed pessimistically, it implies that the Ma administration expects little if anything new from the Lien-Xi Summit. Viewed optimistically, Lien Chan is free from official encumbrances. He can speak for himself. He is not bound by any Ma administration or KMT shackles. The Ma administration can then, at its own discretion, take advantage of any opportunity that might arise to make a political overture to Beijing.
Yesterday the Lien-Xi Summit convened. The initial expectation was that Lien and Xi would use the occasion to announce a new cross-Strait policy. Now it seems, they will merely offer pleasantries and generalities. There has been no mention of new developments. There has been no mention even of "exploring political relations under special circumstances in which the two sides have yet to be reunified," as mentioned in the CCP 18th Party Congress Political Report. Nor has there been any mention of any other issues. Lien Chan declared that the summit was not being held for the sake of any particular political party's selfish, short term interests. Instead, he said the things that neither the Ma administration nor the Beijing authorities dared to say or could say. This is worth contemplating.
Lien Chan mentioned the CCP 18th Party Congress Political Report and other related documents. He referred to passages such as "exploring political relations under special circumstances in which the two sides have yet to be reunified," "taking the two sides' existing provisions as a point of departure," "seeking points of linkage," and "making fair and reasonable arrangements." Lien praised these as both realistic and visionary. He said he felt precisely the same way. Had Lien Chan attended the summit as an envoy of the Ma administration, or of the KMT, he would have found it impossible to publicly endorse such views. He would have been in no position to express himself so freely.
Furthermore, Lien Chan said he hoped the two sides could use these views as a point of departure, explore them in depth, arrive at a consensus, and establish a balanced, equal, and effective (pre-reunification) political framework." Lien Chan first endorsed Beijing's call for "exploring political relations under special circumstances in which the two sides have yet to be reunified," "making a fair and reasonable arrangements," and "using the two sides' existing provisions as a point of departure." Only then did he propose that the two sides establish a "balanced, equal, and effective (pre-reunification) political framework."
Both sides face a dilemma. Beijing's reasoning is often vague. For example, what exactly does "yet to be reunified" mean? What exactly do "special circumstances" refer to? This is why Taipei is afraid and unwilling to set forth any concrete proposals in response. Taipei is afraid of falling into a trap. For example, Beijing spoke of "exploring political relations under special circumstances in which the two sides have yet to be reunified." But do these "special circumstances" mean that "Republic of China and the People's Republic are equal?" Beijing has yet to say. Consider another example: "using the two sides' existing provisions as a point of departure." Beijng has yet to say "using the two sides' existing constitutions as a point of departure." That is why many on Taiwan may be willing to endorse "exploring political relations under special circumstances in which the two sides have yet to be reunified." But few expect concrete results. As a result, many on Taiwan simply refuse to listen to such proposals from Beijing. Lien Chan, on the other hand, is attempting to explore the practical significance of these vague concepts and thinking about how to implement them in the real world.
Lien Chan said, "History led to 1949, and the split between authorities on the two sides. This is an objective fact." He then said, "Political differences between the two sides remain. On the one hand, we (the two sides) have divided rule and mutual respect. On the other hand, we must increase cooperation, and seek a win-win scenario." Lien said that "under these special circumstances, the two sides' have different interpretations of the meaning of "one China." But both sides can "seek a shared framework of one China, while holding different interpretations of the definition of one China."
Beijing often advances vague proposals regarding "one China." Lien Chan apparently feels that failure to clarify the political realities of agreements and disagreements over the definition of one China, makes it impossible to implement such proposals. Lien and Xi met in private for 30 minutes. We are confident the two will be able to offer a clearer explanation.
Lien Chan held back somewhat. But what he said was unprecedented in its frankness and depth. Had Lien Chan been Ma Ying-jeou's envoy, he could not have expressed himself so bluntly. Lien Chan has credibilty with the public on both sides. He is also an icon of the Blue Camp on Taiwan. Lien Chan has been frank in expressing his views on cross-Strait policy. His views ought to be considered the bottom line consensus on Taiwan. This is a serious issue that the two sides must face. Lien Chan was not a representative of the Ma administration. In point of fact, he was a representative of something far bigger and far more significant.
Beijing may not have been happy to hear Lien Chan expressing such views. But Lien Chan expressed agreement with Xi Jinping's declaration that "one's path determines one's destiny." The cross-Strait path must not be for the sake of any one political party's selfish, short term interests.
2013.02.26 04:11 am